Western Australia’s McGowan Government is giving the state’s industrial hemp sector a helping hand with the backing of the Industrial Hemp Grants Scheme (IHGS).
The $200,000 scheme will provide grants for research identifying new varieties of industrial hemp that are suitable for the state and also support investigating opportunities for processing the crop, markets and improving systems.
“Big opportunities exist for hemp as a high-protein grain for food and beverage production, and as a fibre for textiles and building products,” said WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan. “The feedback we are getting from growers, processors, manufacturers and businesses is that they need support to establish processing facilities, develop markets and to identify varieties suitable for WA conditions.”
Individual grants will be in the range of $20,000 and $100,000. Grant recipients are expected to match funding dollar-for-dollar and all projects will need to deliver industry-wide benefits.
“Any expansion of the industry will not only deliver economic benefits but will provide more jobs in regional WA,” said Minister MacTiernan.
Applications opened last Friday and will close on Friday 30 November, 2018. Funded projects must be completed by 31 March 2020. The Scheme is part of the state- funded Agribusiness Innovation Fund (AIF), managed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
Further information on the IHGS can be found here.
Things have been looking bright for WA hemp farmers, particularly since August when legislation was passed increasing the upper limit of THC permitted in industrial hemp from 0.35 per cent to one per cent; enabling farmers to select from a much wider range of varieties.
In September, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development commissioned a survey of 64 growers, processors, manufacturers and businesses involved in the state’s hemp industry. 79 per cent of those surveyed indicated an intention to expand production in the next three years. However, an absence of processing facilities for hemp food and fibre in the state was noted as a challenge – and an opportunity.
The industry in Western Australia is regulated under the Industrial Hemp Act 2004 . Currently, the Act does not permit production of low THC industrial hemp for the purposes of medicinal cannabis – another lucrative opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.